Senate Democrats

Military Leaders And Prominent Republicans Call For Repeal Of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

The nation’s top military leaders and prominent Republicans have urged Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Repealing this policy not only will improve troop readiness, but our military leadership has testified that it will not harm troop morale or unit cohesion. In addition to strengthening our Armed Forces by repealing this policy, passage of the Defense Authorization Act will also ensure that our Armed Forces have critical support like improved battlefield protection and well-deserved pay raises. Today Republicans have a choice: support our troops by passing this bill or play politics with our national security.

Our nation’s military leaders and conservatives support the urgent repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: “I believe this is a matter of some urgency because, as we have seen this past year, the judicial branch is becoming involved in this issue, and it is only a matter of time before the federal courts are drawn once more into the fray.” [Testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee, 12/2/10]

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen: “I worry that unpredictable actions in the court could strike down the law at any time, precluding the orderly implementation plan we believe is necessary to mitigate risk …I also have no expectation that challenges to our national security are going to diminish in the near future, such that a more convenient time will appear. War does not stifle change; it demands it.” [Testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee, 12/2/10]

General Colin Powell, Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Former Secretary of State: “In the almost seventeen years since the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed. … I fully support the new approach presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week by Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” [CNN, “Powell in favor of repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,” 2/3/10]

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James E. Cartwright: “My greatest concern – should the law change through the judicial process – is the department may lose its ability to transition in a way that permits a managed implementation.” [Testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee, 12/2/10]

Commander of US Army Europe General Carter F. Ham: “After nine months of study, I am convinced that if the law changes, the United States military can do this, even in a time of war.” [Testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee, 12/2/10]

Navy Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations: “I believe the appropriate policy issues have been researched, examined and necessary courses of action have been considered,” he told the committee. “The [survey] response has helped me to assess the potential impacts to effectiveness, readiness, unit cohesion and morale in our Navy.” [Testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee, 12/3/10]

General Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff: “It is my assessment that the U.S. Air Force can accommodate a repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ with modest risk to military readiness and effectiveness, unit cohesion, recruiting, and retention of our airmen,” Schwartz said. However, the general expressed concern about the potential disruption a repeal of the law could cause in combat units serving in Afghanistan. [Testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee, 12/3/10]

Department of Defense General Counsel Jeh Johnson: “Our military can make this change, provided we do so in an orderly and reasonable manner, in accord with the recommendations for implementation we offer in our report.” [Testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee, 12/2/10]

Liz Cheney, Daughter of Former Vice President Dick Cheney: “It’s time for it to end.” [Talking Points Memo, “Liz Cheney Tells TPMDC: Time To End Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” 2/18/10]